Lowell grad Brandon Grubbe in battle for IU’s backup safety spot
By Andy Proffet Post-Tribune correspondent August 17, 2013 8:48PM
Football, Cream and Crimson Spring Football game, 04/13/13_Mike Dickbernd
Updated: September 19, 2013 10:16AM
BLOOMINGTON — In the spring, Brandon Grubbe acknowledged he had plenty to learn in transitioning from linebacker to safety for the Indiana Hoosiers.
“(We) felt like he made good progress throughout the spring, made good progress throughout the summer,” IU defensive coordinator Doug Mallory said.
For now, at least, Grubbe has earned a second-string safety spot in his first season of eligibility for the Hoosiers. The redshirt junior is backing up fifth-year senior Greg Heban, IU’s leading tackler last season.
“I know Heban’s one of the best defensive players we have, one of the best players on the team,” Grubbe said. “I know if I’m his backup, I’ve got to come and play at his standards.”
But the Lowell native also must fend off competition himself. Antonio Allen, a freshman from Indianapolis Ben Davis, is making his presence felt during the Hoosiers’ training camp.
“Antonio’s put himself in a position that he’s going to be competing for a lot of playing time here this fall,” said Mallory, who also coaches the safeties. “Here’s a guy that’s played defense pretty much his whole life and been a safety his whole life, so having that background has helped him project himself a little bit further.”
Grubbe, a transfer from Butler, was ineligible to play last season for the Hoosiers but was able to practice at linebacker. Mallory said the number of linebackers in the incoming class and those coming back from last year’s roster meant Grubbe stood a better chance if he moved to safety.
“(Now) I know my role, I can narrow down on what technique I need to learn,” Grubbe said.
Mallory said Grubbe has a good chance to play this fall.
“The thing he does, he brings toughness, he brings passion for the game out there,” Mallory said. “That’s something we’re certainly looking for.”
Considering the Hoosiers’ perpetual struggles on defense, the team will use all the players it can. Grubbe will also see playing time on special teams.
“Almost everybody here is on special teams,” he said. “Starters, backups … if you want to play, you’ve got to play special teams.”
Del Grosso walks on: Grubbe isn’t the only player with Region ties on IU’s roster. Aaron Del Grosso, a freshman kicker from Hobart, is a walk-on for the Hoosiers this fall.
Del Grosso is one of two freshman kickers behind Mitch Ewald, IU’s Groza Award watch list candidate. This is Ewald’s final season of eligibility.
It’s unlikely either Del Grosso or fellow walk-on Griffin Oakes of Greenwood will see playing time this season.